Barbeque Basics

Grilling, like any other kind of cooking, is a combination of technique, art, and practice.

barbeque grill
Michal Zacharzewski
Learning barbeque basics will allow you to cook more flavorful dishes on the grill.

Here are some beginner's "barbecue rules" to help you safely master everything from burgers and hot dogs to salmon and dessert:

Rule 1:
Always keep your grill clean. This is essential for good-tasting food and general safety.

Rule 2:
Always keep a close eye on what you're grilling. Food can burn quickly, so be on guard and check food frequently.

Rule 3:
Cook vegetables and fruits at the outer, cooler edges of the grill since they tend to burn more quickly than meat.

Rule 4:
When grilling low-fat meats and other foods that can stick, apply oil or nonstick cooking spray to the grill grate before placing it on the grill and before the grill is heated.

Rule 5:
Turning food is essential to even cooking. However, turning too often slows cooking and can result in tough, dry food. Ideally, most fish and meats should be turned only once during cooking time.

Rule 6:
Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 20 minutes before building kabobs to prevent skewers from burning.

Rule 7:
Spice up your food a good hour or two before it hits the grill. This marinating time allows the food to absorb the flavors.

Rule 8:
Don't apply sauces prior to grilling. Not only do they tend to drip onto the coals and cause flare-ups, but most also contain sugar, which will burn quickly and give the food a burnt taste. Consult the recipe to see when to begin basting; usually it's about 5 minutes before the end of grilling time.

Gas and charcoal each offer a different grilling experience. While some find it easier to grill with gas, charcoal has advantages of its own that you should consider. Learn about grilling with charcoal in the next segment.

To learn more about grilling, check out these additional articles: